WHO / BULGARIA HIV SELF TESTING

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24-Jun-2021 00:04:36
Despite progress in recent years, population groups in Bulgaria who are most vulnerable to HIV infection are not aware of their HIV status and are reluctant to seek testing at health institutions due to fear of potential stigma. WHO

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STORY: WHO / BULGARIA HIV SELF-TESTING
TRT: 4:39
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT WHO ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: BULGARIAN / NATS

DATELINE: 21 NOVEMBER 2020, SOFIA, BULGARIA

1.Wide shot, street in Sofia with people walking by

19 NOVEMBER 2020, SOFIA, BULGARIA

2.Various shots, people chatting at Single Step Foundation in Sofia.
3.SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) Ivan Dimov, Single Step Foundation Founder and Chairman:
"For me the biggest problem, regardless of which side we approach it from, is the stigma. The belief is still held in Bulgaria that if you are HIV-positive you've been given a death sentence, which hasn't been true for decades. But the stigma for me is the biggest problem that we all have to fight against in partnership with the institutions and the pharmaceutical companies. The main thing is that these initiatives need to come from the community for the community”
4.Various shots, Ivan Dimov and Momchil Baev talk with community members at Single Step Foundation

20 NOVEMBER 2020, SOFIA, BULGARIA

5.Med shot, Momchil Baev, looking at documents
6.Close up, Baev looking at “HIV Testing Among the MSM Group in Bulgaria”
7.Close up, Baev scrolling through Foundation’s website and an advertisement for HIV self-testing
8.SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) Momchil Baev, Single Step Foundation Sexual Health and HIV Programme Manager:
“As part of the research we also look at the reasons people have for not testing for HIV. Namely, we have a question on this in the questionnaire. A fifth of the people polled say that in the city they live there is the possibility to get tested for HIV, but they wouldn't want to be seen in such a place. This is because even in the regional cities like in the smaller towns people know each other. Another type of answer that we get to this question is that people say there is the possibility to get tested but I don't want people to see me in such an office because they would think I am gay. Once again, the stigma is the reason for these people not to have been tested. We have 20% from the ones and 20% from the others, that makes 40% in total from this group who don't get to HIV testing, precisely because of the stigma. So, this is a big battle for us”.

21 NOVEMBER 2020, SOFIA, BULGARIA

10.Various shots, Sofia tramway and city street


20 NOVEMBER 2020, SOFIA, BUSMANTZI, BULGARIA

11.Med shot, Teodor Paunov walking into his home
12.Med shot, Teodor at home drinking tea and looking at his mobile phone
13.Med shot, Teodor opening an envelope containing an HIV self-testing kit
14.Close up, HIV self-testing brochure
15.Various shots, contents of HIV self-testing package
16.Med shot, Teodor opening the self-testing package and commenting
17.Various shots, Teodor looking at HIV self-testing materials
18.SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) Teodor Paunov, recipient of HIV self-test kit:
“I would recommend to anyone to do this test, who thinks that he has questionable sexual contacts and even if he doesn’t, it's still a good option. It's done at home, it's discreet for anyone who is nervous about going to an office with the sometimes not so friendly nurses and it's a pleasant alternative in the convenience of your home”
19.Med shot, Teodor conducts a self-test
20.Close up, awaiting results of the self-test
21.Close up, Teodor shows the negative test result to the camera

STORYLINE:


Despite progress in recent years, population groups in Bulgaria who are most vulnerable to HIV infection are not aware of their HIV status and are reluctant to seek testing at health institutions due to fear of potential stigma.

The most vulnerable groups include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people.


SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) Ivan Dimov, Single Step Foundation Founder and Chairman:
"For me the biggest problem, regardless of which side we approach it from, is the stigma. The belief is still held in Bulgaria that if you are HIV-positive you've been given a death sentence, which hasn't been true for decades. But the stigma for me is the biggest problem that we all have to fight against in partnership with the institutions and the pharmaceutical companies. The main thing is that these initiatives need to come from the community for the community”


Since 2016, WHO has recommended that HIV self-testing be offered as an additional approach to traditional HIV testing services. Nine hundred free HIV self-testing kits were sent to 120 locations across Bulgaria, thanks to a pilot project of Single Step Foundation with support from WHO.

SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) Momchil Baev, Single Step Foundation Sexual Health and HIV Programme Manager:
“As part of the research we also look at the reasons people have for not testing for HIV. Namely, we have a question on this in the questionnaire. A fifth of the people polled say that in the city they live there is the possibility to get tested for HIV, but they wouldn't want to be seen in such a place. This is because even in the regional cities like in the smaller towns people know each other. Another type of answer that we get to this question is that people say there is the possibility to get tested but I don't want people to see me in such an office because they would think I am gay. Once again, the stigma is the reason for these people not to have been tested. We have 20% from the ones and 20 percent from the others, that makes 40% in total from this group who don't get to HIV testing, precisely because of the stigma. So, this is a big battle for us”.

The project has shown that more people get tested for HIV when self-testing is available. The findings are especially relevant to health authorities working to maintain essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) Teodor Paunov, recipient of HIV self-test kit:
“I would recommend to anyone to do this test, who thinks that he has questionable sexual contacts and even if he doesn’t, it's still a good option. It's done at home, it's discreet for anyone who is nervous about going to an office with the sometimes not so friendly nurses and it's a pleasant alternative in the convenience of your home”

HIV testing is a critical public health intervention because it is the first step towards treatment and care. With current antiretroviral treatment, people who test positive can expect to live a healthy live with HIV without passing it on to anyone else.
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